The purpose of this study was to investigate whether erythropoietin (EPO) has an effect on the expression of bcl-2 in rat cardiac myocytes following experimental isolated traumatic brain injury (TBI). Forty-eight Wistar-Albino female rats were randomly allocated into eight groups. Groups AC and BC were controls; groups AS and BS were sham-operated animals. Groups A1 and B1 underwent head trauma without treatment. Groups A2 and B2, head traumas plus EPO intraperitoneally (1000 lU/kg); groups A3 and B3, the vehicle groups, head traumas and intraperitoneal albumin (0.4 ml/rat). The method of weight drop was used to produce impact trauma at 24 hours after injury. Samples obtained from the left ventricle were assayed for lipid peroxidation and bcl-2 gene expression using real-time quantitative polymerase chain reactions. Lipid peroxidation in the heart tissue was determined by the concentration of thiobarbituric acid reactive substances (TBARs). The results showed that administration of EPO significantly reduced the increase in lipid peroxidation by-products after moderate or severe trauma. The bcl-2 expression was significantly higher in EPO (A2 and B2) compared to trauma groups (Al and B1) suggesting a protective effect. These findings suggest that EPO may play an important role in the expression of bcl-2 and decrease in TBARs-the end product of lipid peroxidation in myocytes-after moderate or severe TBI. © 2004 by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.